Identifying and analyzing emerging trends in campaigns and elections.

Posts Tagged ‘Bob Dutton’

Post-Primary Mississippi Polling Gives McDaniel the Edge; California Counting Continues

In House, Polling, Primary, Senate on June 10, 2014 at 10:22 am

The first two public polls were just released in the Cochran-McDaniel Republican senatorial run-off campaign (June 24 election), and both the Democratic and Republican survey research firms conducting the studies arrived at the same conclusion: challenger Chris McDaniel is leading.

As you will remember, last Tuesday’s Mississippi primary contest found incumbent Sen. Thad Cochran and state Sen. Chris McDaniel headed to a run-off because neither garnered an outright majority of the vote. McDaniel placed first with 49.4 percent as compared to Sen. Cochran’s 49.0 percent.

The Democratic polling firm, Chism Strategies, which may have been the most accurate bellwether in the primary (predicted a 46-44 percent McDaniel lead going into Election Day), returns for the run-off. Their new data (June 5; 835 likely Mississippi Republican run-off voters, self-identifying as primary voters and  Continue reading >

Do Dems Have a Shot at Gaining Calif. House Seats?

In House on June 20, 2012 at 5:03 pm

After the June 5 California primary, most observers were stunned to see two Republicans, Rep. Gary Miller (R-CA-42) and state Senate Minority Leader Bob Dutton (R), qualify for the general election in San Bernardino County’s 31st Congressional District. Considering that this new seat should normally vote Democratic in at least six of every 10 elections, the double Republican primary outcome had not been foreseen. His party’s San Berdo setback did not deter Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Steve Israel (D-NY-2) from continuing to declare that his team will gain at least four to five California House seats, however.

A look beyond the Obama-McCain 2008 numbers on the newly crafted California Citizens Redistricting Commission congressional map tells a different story. Right now, it appears the Democrats are safe in 28 California seats and Republicans’ 13, with 12 seats in competitive Democrat vs. Republican situations. If these numbers are correct, then the D’s would have to win 10 or 11 of the dozen most competitive districts to reach Israel’s projection of leaving California with 38 or 39 Democratic seats.

Though President Obama carried all 12 of the marginal seats in 2008, he did so under his statewide 61 percent winning percentage in every district. Looking beyond the surface of the presidential race, we find that the Republican attorney general nominee, Los Angeles District Attorney Steve Cooley, who ended up losing statewide by less than one percentage point, actually carried all 12 of these CDs. Additionally, and possibly even more telling, Sen. Barbara Boxer (D), a 52-42 percent winner statewide two years ago, lost nine of the 12 districts to Republican Carly Fiorina. Gov. Jerry Brown (D), a 54-41 percent victor over Republican Meg Whitman in 2010, won eight of the competitive dozen.

Therefore, with Republican performances such as these, what are Israel and other Democratic partisans looking at when they predict lofty Golden State gains, numbers they must attain to have any chance of competing for the House majority?

One argument is that the turnout model will certainly be different from the one that came to fruition in 2010 because, as the theory goes, President Obama will energize the electorate and increase Democratic turnout. That the voter participation rate will exceed the 2010 mid-term performance is almost certainly true, but with a virtually uncontested presidential race in California and Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D) facing little credible re-election opposition, will the turnout drive be as strong as the national Democrats believe? Conversely, with a public employee pension reform measure on the statewide ballot and considering the cities of San Jose and San Diego already passed similar propositions in June, could this issue actually provide more juice for Republicans and right of center Independents as opposed to Democrats? The answer is, quite possibly.

Turning to some of the individual races, in order to achieve their statewide goal Democrats would have to beat at least three of the four following incumbents: Dan Lungren (R-CA-7), Jeff Denham (R-CA-10), Mary Bono Mack (R-CA-36), and Brian Bilbray (R-CA-52).

But only in San Diego, despite Republicans outnumbering Democrats 36-33 percent in the new 52nd District, is there a legitimate crack at a vulnerable Republican incumbent. Rep. Bilbray received only 41 percent in the jungle primary but new Democratic opponent Scott Peters, who placed second with only about 23 percent, has vulnerability from his previous controversial service on the San Diego City Council. So, even here, which seems to be the Democrats’ best chance to unseat an incumbent, their conversion bid is far from secure.

Republicans also look to have the upper hand in Districts 21 with Assemblyman David Valadao reaching almost 60 percent in the open seat Central Valley primary, the marginal 26th where they have the stronger candidate, Ventura County state Sen. Tony Strickland, and even in Democratic leaning District 41 (Riverside County), where the combined Republican primary vote formed a majority. Additionally, the Democrats feature a general election candidate there who has already lost three previous congressional campaigns, while the Republicans are promoting a powerful county Supervisor.

Right now, the Democratic victory total is nowhere close to winning 10 or 11 of these 12 seats, as the realistic sum appears closer to five. Instead of gaining four or five California districts, it’s more feasible that the parties will remain constant in their 34D-19R delegation ratio, or quite possibly lose a seat. Such a result virtually guarantees the continuance of the House Republican majority.

More California Primary Updates

In Election Analysis, House on June 11, 2012 at 12:19 pm

With almost 1 million mailed and provisional ballots still being counted after the California primary last Tuesday, a bit more is becoming known about the general election congressional pairings.

In the 2nd District, Republican Dan Roberts has opened up a larger lead for the second general election position. He now has a 1,532 vote advantage over liberal author Norman Solomon (D). Roberts finishing second would be good news for Assemblyman Jared Huffman (D), the first-place qualifier, because the new CA-2 is heavily Democratic and will vote that way in November.

In the 8th District, anchored in San Bernardino County and which then travels up the Nevada border, it now appears certain that a double Republican general election will occur. The smattering of new vote returns places Democrat Jackie Conaway in fourth position and propelled businessman Gregg Imus ahead of Assemblyman Paul Cook for first place. Republican businessman Phil Liberatore is now third. Few uncounted votes remain, so it does appear that Imus and Cook will be the two who advance through to November.

With only 5,100+ votes to tally county-wide in San Bernardino, the CA-31 double Republican general election featuring Rep. Gary Miller (R-CA-42) and state Senate Minority Leader Bob Dutton appears to be clinched. Miller placed first with 27 percent of the vote, followed closely by Dutton’s 25 percent. Despite Democrats having a 41-35 percent advantage in voter registration, this seat is now guaranteed to send a Republican to Washington for the next Congress.

In San Diego, the picture as to which Democrat will face Rep. Brian Bilbray (R-CA-50) is becoming somewhat clearer. San Diego Port Commission chair Scott Peters, a former San Diego city councilman, has opened up a 954-vote lead over former state assemblywoman Lori Saldana. The original count separated the two by less than 650 votes. This district will see a competitive general election battle regardless of who becomes Bilbray’s eventual opponent. The Republicans have a 36-32 percent edge in voter registration, but Bilbray failed to break even 42 percent in the June 5 primary.

California Primary Results Still Unfolding

In Election Analysis, House on June 8, 2012 at 11:55 am

The California primary vote occurred Tuesday, but as many as eight congressional races are still unresolved. Because the California election law allows mail votes, which now normally comprise more than half of the cast ballots, the counting process drags on for days. The Secretary of State estimates that the counties are now sorting, counting, and reporting hundreds of thousands of additional primary votes.

For example, Los Angeles County indicates that it is handling 162,108 mailed, delivered, and provisional ballots. A “delivered” ballot is one where the voter actually returns his mail ballot to the polling place. San Diego County estimates 135,000+ votes remain to be counted. San Bernardino, the site of the two of the eight undeclared elections, has only 13,911 ballots remaining.

The biggest surprise race in the undeclared category is right in San Bernardino County’s 31st Congressional District, the place where Rep. Gary Miller (R-CA-42) is attempting to seek re-election. Under a rudimentary calculation formula based upon only publicly available information, it appears that just 5-10,000 votes remain to be counted. If true, this means Mr. Miller will qualify for the general election because he placed first with 27 percent in the jungle primary. As you will remember, California now has a top-two finisher law, meaning that the top two vote-getters, regardless of political party affiliation, advance to the November general election.

In second place, at 25 percent, is Miller’s fellow Republican Bob Dutton, the state Senate Minority Leader. Posting 23 percent, some 1,500 votes behind Dutton, is Redlands Democratic Mayor Paul Aguilar. If there are less than 10,000 votes remaining, then it would be extremely difficult for Aguilar to make up the difference between he and Dutton. Failing to do so means the Republicans would qualify both candidates for the general election here, guaranteeing the party will win this very marginal seat. Such a result will be a huge boon to the Republicans and certainly Rep. Miller.

Also partially in San Bernardino, the new 8th District that should elect a Republican in the general election, is in a virtual four-way tie, though the later numbers suggest that GOP Assemblyman Paul Cook and businessman Gregg Imus (R) will qualify for the general election. The other very close competitors are Democratic businesswoman Jackie Conaway, and Republican accountant Phil Liberatore. If Cook and Imus qualify for the general election, a second double Republican campaign will evolve.

In northern California’s 2nd District, the seat from which Rep. Lynn Woolsey (D-CA-6) is retiring, state Assemblyman Jared Huffman (D) has secured a general election position. The open question is whether Republican Dan Roberts, currently second, or liberal author Norman Solomon will qualify for November. Huffman becomes the clear general election winner should Roberts hold onto second place because the seat is so heavily Democratic in general elections.

In San Diego, Rep. Brian Bilbray (R-CA-50), who scored an underwhelming 41 percent in the new 52nd CD, has qualified for the general election. He waits to see whether San Diego Port Commission chairman and former city councilman Scott Peters will be his opponent or ex-assemblywoman Lori Saldana. The two are only separated by 645 votes (meaning less than one percentage point), and the order could easily change when the estimated 35,000+ uncounted ballots are added to the total. Whatever the final result, Bilbray will have a highly competitive race on his hands in November.

In the new Central Valley 21st District, anchored in and between the cities of Bakersfield and Fresno, GOP state Assemblyman David Valadao easily captured the first position with 57 percent of the vote and waits to see if former Hispanic Chamber of Commerce president John Hernandez or Fresno City Councilman Blong Xiong will qualify to challenge him later this year. Hernandez leads Xiong by 1,046 votes with an unknown number of ballots remaining to be counted. Against either man, Valadao becomes the prohibitive favorite for the open seat win in November, which would neutralize the Republican loss of retiring Rep. David Dreier’s (R-CA-26) seat in Los Angeles County, from a delegation count perspective.

Though the following elections will not be competitive in the general election because all of the succeeding incumbents will cruise in the November vote, Reps. Doris Matsui (D-CA-6), Judy Chu (D-CA-27), and Linda Sanchez (D-CA-38) all await a determination as to who they will face in the general election.

California House races will be heavily discussed throughout the remaining cycle because of the large number of competitive races that are on tap. Right now, it appears Democrats are secure in 27 of the state’s 53 congressional districts, Republicans’ 13, with five Democratic-held seats and four Republican-held seats headed for strong general election competition.

Four new open seats, including the aforementioned CA-21, are up for grabs. Three of the four (Districts 26, 41, and 47) appear to be headed to the toss-up or “tilt” categories. Republicans Tony Strickland and John Tavaglione appear to have the early advantage in Districts 26 (Ventura) and 41 (Riverside), respectively. State Sen. Alan Lowenthal (D) has a slight edge in new District 47 (Long Beach area), but his primary performance (34 percent) was clearly unimpressive. His GOP opponent is Long Beach City Councilman Gary DeLong who ran stronger than expected, scoring 29 percent, and eliminated former one-term Rep. Steve Kuykendall (R-CA-36).

California Primary Highlights

In House on June 6, 2012 at 12:21 pm

The new California primary, as we knew it would with the new voting system that sends the top two finishers to the general election regardless of political party affiliation, produced some surprises.

We will provide in-depth coverage of these results when the large number of absentee ballots are finally added to last night’s totals, numbers that could change the order of some of the individual race standings. But, for now, the highlights:

In perhaps the biggest surprise of the evening, considering this is largely a Democratic seat, Rep. Gary Miller (R-CA-42), a major redistricting victim, appears to have qualified for the general election in the San Bernardino-based 31st District, very possibly against another Republican. With the election night votes counted, Miller led the jungle primary with 27 percent of the vote, no small feat in a new district where he has literally no carry over from his previous constituency, while state Senate Minority Leader Bob Dutton (R) is currently placing second with 25 percent. Redlands Mayor Pete Aguilar (D) is third with 23 percent, but the absentee ballots could alter this order. Should it stand, this result would be a boon for Republicans because it would guarantee the party’s victory in the fall, since the general election would be between two members of the GOP. This would be an extraordinary outcome in a district that likely will elect Democrats in most elections.

Absentee ballots will definitely decide the outcome of the new 8th District, also largely a San Bernardino County seat, just to the east and north of CA-31. There, a four-way split among three Republicans and a Democrat will be sorted out to determine which two individuals advance to the general election. Two Republicans, right now, lead, but all four candidates are showing a 15 percent total. The pair of leaders are Assemblyman Paul Cook and homebuilder Gregg Imus. Democrat Jackie Conaway, a law office manager, is third and businessman Phil Liberatore, another Republican, is fourth, but the order could change drastically once all of the ballots are finally tabulated. San Bernardino County Supervisor Brad Mitzelfelt, originally thought to be a potential general election qualifier, is in fifth place with 11 percent and likely out of the competition.

In the 30th District mega-congressional race between Democratic incumbents Brad Sherman and Howard Berman, both will qualify for the double-Democratic general election. Sherman placed first, with 42 percent, over Berman (32 percent). This is likely to become the most expensive congressional race in the United States. Sherman currently represents 58 percent of this new district while Berman only has 20 percent, thus explaining the order of last night’s outcome.

In another Democratic incumbent pairing, freshman Rep. Janice Hahn claimed a 60-40 percent placement victory against Rep. Laura Richardson, meaning the two will again square-off in the general election. Only about 33,000 votes were cast in this election, not counting more absentee ballots to follow but, since this was already a two-way race, the two would have advanced to the general election regardless of last night’s outcome.

In one of the new seats that the California redistricting commission created, GOP state Assemblyman David Valadao scored 57 percent against two Democrats in his Bakersfield-anchored congressional seat. Unless the absentees change the order, Valadao will face businessman John Hernandez in the general election and not Fresno City Councilman Blong Xiong, as many expected. The size of Valadao’s primary victory gives him a major advantage in the general election. Such an outcome would be another major score for the California GOP.

In the marginal 26th District, GOP state Sen. Tony Strickland will advance to the general election very likely against state Assemblywoman Julia Brownley (D). Ventura County Supervisor Linda Parks, a Republican who chose to run in this race as an Independent, is third, some eight percentage points behind Brownley so it is unlikely that the absentee count will change this order.

In the Oakland area, 20-term Rep. Pete Stark is headed for a double-Democratic general election against Dublin City Councilman Eric Swalwell, as expected. This could become, however, a very serious contest as Stark only finished first last night by a 42-36 percent margin. This is a campaign to watch in the fall because Stark is clearly in jeopardy of losing his seat, but the Democrats retain the district regardless of the final outcome.

In a race that avoided a double-Democrat general election, state Assemblyman Jared Huffman advanced to the November vote and will claim the seat at that time, as Republican Dan Roberts edged a split Democratic field for second place. The Democratic nature of the CD will yield an easy Huffman win later this year. Had another Democrat qualified, this contest would have become very interesting.

A dozen incumbents, including members such as Stark, Henry Waxman, Jeff Denham, Lois Capps, Grace Napolitano and Brian Bilbray to name a few, finished with less than 50 percent of the total vote, suggesting further potential competition in the general election.

Much more to come on the California races once the final vote tallies become known.

California’s Changing Congressional Makeup

In Election Analysis, House on January 13, 2012 at 12:34 pm

In what became an expected announcement, particularly considering the developments during the past few days, 17-term Rep. Jerry Lewis (R-CA-41) confirmed that he will retire at the end of the current Congress. Mr. Lewis, a former Appropriations Committee chairman and the dean of the California Republican delegation, was first elected to the House in 1978 after serving 10 years in the state Assembly.

The California Citizens Redistricting Commission placed Lewis’ home in the new 31st District, a politically marginal seat anchored in the cities of San Bernardino, Rialto, and the congressman’s home of Redlands. But most of his Republican territory wound up in the new 8th District, a seat that begins in San Bernardino County, but which travels up the California-Nevada border all the way to Yosemite. When the map was passed, Mr. Lewis said he would not move his family to claim the 8th, but it also didn’t look like he would risk defeat by running in the 31st, which, more often than not, will elect a Democrat.

The other incumbent placed in CA-31 was Rep. Joe Baca (D-CA-43). Surveying the district after the lines were made public, Mr. Baca believed his political fortunes were better served by running in the new District 35, even though his home city of Rialto is excluded and having to face a popular Democratic state senator, Gloria Negrete McLeod, in an intra-party challenge that could consume a full year under California’s new election law.

Surprisingly, on the heels of the Lewis retirement statement, Rep. Gary Miller (R-CA-42), currently paired with fellow Republican Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA-40) in new District 39, said he will now run in the vacated 31st. Miller currently represents a small portion of San Bernardino County that is housed in the 31st, and he obviously believes his chances of surviving in a marginal Democratic seat are superior to fighting a Republican-on-Republican war with Mr. Royce. Thus, the big winner in this scenario is Rep. Royce, as he is now the only incumbent in the safely Republican CA-39. He still will have significant primary opposition, however, as Orange County Supervisor Shawn Nelson is an announced Republican candidate who could prove to be a formidable candidate.

The Miller move sends another signal, too. Because Rep. David Dreier (R-CA-26), whose current district was split six ways, also represents part of the new 31st it was thought that this could be a landing place for him should Mr. Lewis either run in the 8th or retire. With no further inkling from Mr. Dreier that he is looking at the 31st, the speculation that he too will retire certainly gains credence.

Should Dreier follow suit and leave the House, California Republicans will lose their top four senior members: Lewis, Dreier, Rep. Wally Herger (R-CA-2), and Rep. Elton Gallegly (R-CA-24). Their combined length of service is 118 years.

Now that the 31st is officially an open seat, expect action to occur soon. The top Democrat in the race so far is Redlands Mayor Pete Aguilar. Aside from Rep. Miller, state Senate Minority Leader Bob Dutton and San Bernardino District Attorney Michael Ramos are both potential Republican contenders. Taking into consideration California’s new law that sends the top two finishers from the qualifying election onto the general regardless of political party affiliation, virtually anything can happen in this race.

Though CA-31 leans Democratic, it doesn’t do so by much. Sen. Barbara Boxer (D), for example, won here by just two points, 46-44 percent. The Republican attorney general candidate, though losing a close race statewide, carried the new 31st 46-39 percent. Gov. Jerry Brown scored a 49-41 percent win over GOP businesswoman Meg Whitman.

Expect this race to fluctuate between “toss-up” and “lean Democrat” all the way to the November election.